Dr. Sandra Cohen, a Beverly Hills psychoanalyst, writes about your favorite film, TV, and book characters
and their real human problems.

  CAPTAIN PHILLIPS — I grip my armrests. The theater becomes the USS Maersk Alabama. We, the audience, are the crew, stormed by Somali pirates bent on winning their power battle no matter what. It’s terrifying, and Paul Greengrass’ riveting documentary-style film Captain Phillips makes that terror almost unbearable. But there’s more to the film than real-life trauma: for this psychoanalyst, there’s Muse, the pirate captain, and his relationship to Captain Phillips. Could someone like Muse, capable of brutal self-interest, also have empathy? That’s a fascinating question. The relationship between Muse and Captain Phillips, the man Muse calls “Irish,” isn’t so simple as captive and hostage....

  BLUE JASMINE — What happened to Woody Allen? This prolific filmmaker is well known for creating quirkily neurotic yet lovable characters—even characters with depth. However Jasmine French, the lead character in Allen’s latest film Blue Jasmine, unfortunately, isn’t one of them. Jasmine, a Chanel-clad, Park Avenue socialite whose gilded life is unraveling before her, is indeed blue. If that isn’t enough, on top of her melancholy is piled every imaginable psychiatric disorder. A woman like Jasmine, who compulsively looks the other way when she doesn’t want to know something, would certainly fall apart when forced to face an image of herself she’s spent...

ENOUGH SAID — If you’re a divorced or divorcing woman, you can probably relate to Eva’s (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) struggle to open her heart to Albert (James Gandolfini) in Enough Said. Readiness for a relationship after a divorce is not easy for many reasons. But, what undermines a post-divorce relationship faster than anything else is fear. Especially fear that comes with an underlying certainty you will be hurt again. Fear takes many forms. Think about Eva, whose fear is particularly self-defeating. Remember when she’s giving the poet Marianne a massage as Marianne chatters away with one criticism after another of her ex-husband? The man...